Sarophorus group of genera (Scarabaeidae, Scarabaeinae)

Sarophorus, Coptorhina, Frankenbergerius, Delopleurus, males

Sarophorus, Coptorhina, Frankenbergerius, Delopleurus, males

Sarophorus group of genera


Sarophorus group of genera (Sarophorus Erichson, Frankenbergerius Balthasar, Coptorhina Hope, and Delopleurus Erichson) includes peculiar “dung beetles” morphologically and biologically distinct from other scarabaeines. This group was first recognized by Erichson (1847) who noted the sinuate epipleura (strongly in Coptorhina and Delopleurus and not so strongly in Sarophorus) and correspondingly widened metepisterna. The forth genus, Frankenbergerius, was independently described by Balthasar and Ferreira from Coptorhina armata as the type species (Balthasar’s description was based on a mislabeled specimen); it was long considered a junior synonym of Coptorhina but was restored by Frolov and Scholtz (2005).

Members of these genera, especially larger males, are dissimilar in general appearance, showing a great deal of body size and shape variability as well as different head armature and upper side sculpture (see photo). Differences of the females are, however, not so striking and the genera share a number of synapomorphies that suggest the origin from a common ancestor.

Two genera (Coptorhina and Delopleurus) are known as mushroom eaters, and the two other are apparently generalist saprophagous with some species preferring herbivore dung or carrion. The Sarophorus group genera are subendemic to Afrotropical Region; only two species of Delopleurus are known from Southern Asia, but majority of the species of this genus are also distributed in Afrotropics.

The Sarophorus group genera were recently revised (Frolov, 2014; Frolov, Akhmetova, & Scholtz, 2008; Frolov & Scholtz, 2003, 2005) and they currently comprise 30 nominal species.


Erichson, W. F. 1847. Naturgeschichte des Insecten Deutschland. I. Coleoptera. In. Nicolaischen Buchhandlung, Berlin, pp. 641–800.

Frolov, A.V. 2014. Revision of the genus Delopleurus Boheman (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae) with description of new species from Africa. Journal of Natural History, p. 1-25. doi:10.1080/00222933.2014.909072

Frolov, A. V., Akhmetova, L. A. & Scholtz, C. H. 2008. Revision of the obligate mushroom-feeding African “dung beetle” genus Coptorhina Hope (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae). Journal of Natural History, 42(21-22): 1477-1508.

Frolov, A. V. & Scholtz, C. H. 2003. Revision of the Afrotropical dung beetle genus Sarophorus Erichson (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae). African Entomology, 11(2): 183-198.

Frolov, A. V. & Scholtz, C. H. 2005. Revision of the southern African genus Frankenbergerius Balthasar with description of new taxa (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae). Journal of Natural History, 39(25): 2355-2377.